Saving America's Sagebrush Sea
The sagebrush biome is one of the largest habitat types in North America, spanning 175 million acres in 13 western states and two Canadian provinces. This sweeping geography is a patchwork of public, Tribal and private lands, with many of the most productive and well-watered valley bottoms in private ownership.
Together with our partners, we share a vision of intact, resilient sagebrush rangeland made up of sagebrush plants, perennial bunchgrasses, wildflowers, and mesic areas like wet meadows and streams. Trees are limited to ridgetops and wet sites like river bottoms and draws.
Sagebrush habitat hosts more than 350 species of plants and animals of conservation concern, and it provides a suite of ecosystem services. Healthy sagebrush rangelands lock carbon deep in the soil, help prevent erosion, provide forage for livestock and wildlife, and help maintain water supplies.
Perhaps the most famous resident of the sagebrush biome is the sage grouse. This large, showy bird serves as a biome-wide focal species because of its wide-ranging distribution, diverse seasonal habitat needs, and sensitivity to threats impacting working lands. But we can’t save this imperiled landscape alone.
Maintaining vibrant rural economies in these landscapes results in the multi-generational legacy of stewardship and ranching culture on which sagebrush-reliant wildlife depend.
That’s why WLFW focuses on conserving and restoring private, working sagebrush range for sage grouse and for people.
We mean it when we say “What’s good for the bird is good for the herd.”
This action-based framework is the culmination of multi-state, areawide planning initiated to update SGI 2.0 and its ongoing success in 2021-2025.
This framework also serves as NRCS’ ongoing contribution to the Sagebrush Conservation Strategy administered by Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Sharing common cross-boundary threats, NRCS staff across 11 western states collaborated to create this shared vision for conservation action.
“You can help the environment and yourself by doing these programs.”
Chad Blair, Multi-generational South Dakota rancher WLFW participant